Clyde’s Prime Rib, Portland, Oregon

In 1938 Lawrence Frank co-founded Lawry’s The Prime Rib in Los Angeles and for the restaurant he invented a Streamline Moderne, stainless steel serving cart so prime rib could be carved to order and served piping hot, all at the diner’s table. The popularity of Lawry’s led to imitators, including San Francisco’s House of Prime Rib and Portland’s The Prime Rib, now Clyde’s Prime Rib.

 

postcard by Cardboard America on Flickr

postcard by Cardboard America on Flickr

 

me at The Pagoda, 1999

The Jab at The Pagoda, 1999

 

After WWII the Hollywood neighborhood of Portland became the new desirable suburb in town and Sandy Boulevard (which was part of U.S. Highway 30, a main cross-country west-to-east route before the interstate highway system was developed) went right through it. Restaurants started popping up along Sandy, including The Pagoda in 1940 (closed in 2008; Le Continental visited in 1999), Henry Thiele’s for German style pancakes, Poncho’s for Mexican food, and Taste of Sweden. In 1954 Eddie Mays opened The Prime Rib in a building which from 1930 to 1949 housed a branch of the Coon Chicken Inn, a chicken restaurant chain with an entrance made from a huge racist caricature of an African-American red cap (a common name for a railroad station baggage porter).

 

postcard by StumptownBlogger.com

postcard by StumptownBlogger.com

 

Eddie Mays built a rock medieval castle-like wall with a tower entrance in place of the grinning face, with elegant old English decor inside (common in Prime Rib restaurants). He owned several other restaurants including a Prime Rib in Tacoma and Eddie’s and Davey’s Locker in Portland (all closed).

 

photo by Dean Curtis, 2014

photo by Dean Curtis, 2014

 

Pass the knight’s suit of armor after you enter and you may meet Ernest ‘Clyde’ Jenkins, the friendly owner of Clyde’s Prime Rib since 2006. The cocktail lounge has rock walls and vinyl booths, a dance floor, a giant fireplace, and a bar, of course.

 

dining room

dining room

 

The dining room has red velvet (!) booths, chandeliers, framed paintings, a fireplace, and an open beamed ceiling. It looks like not much has changed since 1954 and it’s dark, and that’s the way we like it at Le Continental.

 

photo by Dean Curtis, 2014

photo by Dean Curtis, 2014

 

The menu is beefy, with aged prime rib served in five different sized cuts, plus steaks, as well as some chicken, pork, seafood, and pasta dishes. I’ve heard good things about the steak, but I’ve always just had prime rib. The waiter or chef carves your meat tableside on a large rolling serving cart. Note the cart isn’t the same as the Cadillac of prime rib carts at Lawry’s (which cost $30,000 each!), but it looks the same as in the old postcard at the top of this page.

 

photo by Dean Curtis, 2008

photo by Dean Curtis, 2008

 

photo by Dean Curtis, 2008

photo by Dean Curtis, 2008

 

Clyde’s Prime Rib has live music in the bar on weekends, usually contemporary R&B or blues on Friday and Saturday, with jazz on Sunday, and occasional Thursday night music.

 

Clyde’s Prime Rib
5474 NE Sandy Blvd, Portland, OR 97213
(503) 281-9200
Open Mon-Thu 12:00pm – 12:00am, Fri 12:00pm – 1:00am, Sat 5:00pm – 1:00am, Sun 5:00pm – 12:00am (dinner served Sun-Thu 5:00pm – 9:00pm, Fri-Sat 5:00pm – 10:00pm)

 

 

No. 9 Fishermen’s Grotto, San Francisco, California

One of my favorite web sites during the pre-commercialization heyday of the World Wide Web was the Los Angeles Time Machines site (latimemachines.com). It started in 2004 but it had the look of a 90s web site, basic but chock full of great information. Sadly, in late 2011 the author took the web site down for health reasons and it has never come back. There are a few remnants from the site, namely some outdated Google Maps made from the locations that were listed on the site. This map has hours (which may not be correct anymore) addresses, and year opened, while this map just has short descriptions of the sites. For Mad Men fans, here is a Google Map by the latimemachines.com site showing classic restaurants that were used as filming locations in the early seasons of the TV show. Why I bring up L.A. Time Machines is because the site had a list of Top Ten Overall Time Machine Restaurants in the Los Angeles area.

 

photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

 

In the Bay Area, Le Continental’s award for best all around time machine experience goes to No. 9 Fishermen’s Grotto!

 

Mike 'Pa' Geraldi - photo by Fisherman's Grotto Facebook page

Mike ‘Pa’ Geraldi, 1934 – photo by Fisherman’s Grotto Facebook page

 

In 1931 Mike Geraldi, a fisherman from Sicily, started selling the fish he caught at a stand  at No. 9 Fisherman’s Wharf. In 1935 he opened Fishermen’s Grotto, a full service seafood restaurant on the site.

 

Fisherman's Grotto, 1936 - photo by Fisherman's Grotto Facebook page

Fishermen’s Grotto, 1936 – photo by Fishermen’s Grotto Facebook page

 

Although the Fisherman’s Wharf neighborhood and tourist attraction in San Francisco extends from Pier 39 to Ghirardelli Square, the original wharf where Fisherman’s Grotto is located was created in 1906 from the remains of Meiggs’ Wharf enlarged with rubble from the great San Francisco earthquake. It still acts as a working wharf with many fishing boats operated by the third generation of long-time Italian fishing families. In the early days of the wharf these fisherman would set up stands offering their days catch. Some had large pots to cook Dungeness crab to be sold as crab cocktails in paper cups. Later many stands evolved into restaurants, including Castagnola’s (the stand opened in 1916, but the restaurant opened later), Alioto’s (1925, the restaurant in 1938), Sabella / La Torre (1927, the restaurant starting in the late 1940s), Pompei’s Grotto (1946), The Franciscan (1957), and Scoma’s (1965). Most of the above restaurants have been expanded, remodeled, and updated. The only ones that retain a classic feel are Pompei’s Grotto, Scoma’s (though gradually it is being updated), and Fishermen’s Grotto, which is the oldest and the best-preserved restaurant on the Wharf.

 

Fishermen's Grotto, 1940

Fishermen’s Grotto, 1940 – photo by Fishermen’s Grotto Facebook page

 

Look at the front of the building in the historic photos above and you can see that the Fisherman character was there from the start. It’s still used throughout the restaurant and on many of their souvenir items available in the gift shop. Yes, there’s a gift shop. And they regularly put out vintage items from their old stock that are for sale!

 

Venetian Dining Room postcard - caption reads  "Gaily decorated first and second floor Venetian Dining Rooms of Fisherman's Grotto give visitors a view of world famous Fisherman's Wharf and fishing fleet." - by Ashleyanne Krigbaum's Flickr

Venetian Dining Room postcard – caption reads “Gaily decorated first and second floor Venetian Dining Rooms of Fisherman’s Grotto give visitors a view of world famous Fisherman’s Wharf and fishing fleet.” – by Ashleyanne Krigbaum on Flickr

 

Venetian Dining Room - photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

Venetian Dining Room today – photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

 

The original building’s dining room is called the Venetian Dining Room, which is festively painted in gold and has padded wooden booths with striped poles like those on Venetian gondolas. Some even have lamps at the top, and all have hat/coat hooks. This is one of my favorite historic dining rooms anywhere and it’s kept in perfect shape! Make sure you look at all the historic photos lining the walls, as well as at the views outside to the harbor. Originally there were Venetian dining rooms on both the first and second floors, but now the remaining one is on the ground floor.

 

Venetian Dining Room - photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

Venetian Dining Room – photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

 

Fishermen's Grotto, 1950 - photo by Fisherman's Grotto Facebook page

Fishermen’s Grotto, 1950 – photo by Fisherman’s Grotto Facebook page

 

In 1953 Fishermen’s Grotto expanded on the north end of the building, purchasing and incorporating the Vista Del Mar restaurant next door, which opened in 1951. The swanky Fireplace Cocktail Lounge and beautiful Florentine Dining Room opened upstairs, commanding sweeping views of the harbor.

 

stairway to upstairs Fireplace Lounge and Florentine Dining Room

Stairway today to upstairs Fireplace Lounge and Florentine Dining Room

 

Fireplace Lounge, 1950s - photo by Fisherman's Grotto Facebook page

Fireplace Lounge, 1950s – photo by Fisherman’s Grotto Facebook page

 

Florentine Dining Room, 1950s - photo by Fisherman's Grotto Facebook page

Florentine Dining Room, 1950s – photo by Fisherman’s Grotto Facebook page

 

Also added around this time (on the first floor) were the gift shop and the Grotto Tavern, a cozy small bar with the Fisherman etched in the glass doors, wonderful tufted red vinyl high-backed bar stools, blonde wood ceiling and walls, and a large mural of an Venetian scene.

 

Grotto Tavern entrance - photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

Grotto Tavern entrance – note the old sign from the crab stand with such low prices! – photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

 

closeup of Fisherman - photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

Imbibing Fisherman – photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

 

Grotto Tavern, 2005 – cash register has since been replaced by computer terminal – photo by Dean Curtis

 

Gift Shop - photo by Dean Curtis, 2012

Gift Shop – I took this photo of part of the gift shop in 2012 when they were renovating it. Thankfully the gift shop is still as beautiful as ever. – photo by Dean Curtis, 2012

 

In the 1960s the Fireplace Lounge and Florentine Dining Room were remodeled a bit. The lounge received new blue vinyl chairs, blue tufted-vinyl, high-backed bar stools and new carpet in the fisherman motif, but the rest of the lounge remained the same, including the honey-stained wood walls with diamond-shaped panels, the stained glass windows, also in a diamond pattern, the coffered wood ceiling, the light sconces, the curving wood bar, and the back bar with decorative carved wood treatments and a statue of Poseidon with (perhaps) Amphitrite, one of his many mates. This is the way it looks today. Absolutely stunning. Unfortunately, a TV was added sometime around the early 2000s (I don’t recall its presence when I first visited the bar in the late 1990s). But the fish tank is still there to distract you from the TV, and the fireplace is as well. The last time I visited on a recent weekday summer night the fireplace was lit, though it may not be every night through the year. On my recent visit we were told that the Fireplace Lounge is staffed only on Friday and Saturday nights, though we were served a drink in the bar after we asked nicely.

My phone photos are very dark since I didn’t want to use a flash, so they can’t do justice to the beauty of the room. But hopefully they can give you some idea. Compare them with the B&W photo above of the Fireplace Lounge in the 1950s to see how little has changed.

 

Fireplace Lounge - photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

Fireplace Lounge showing fireplace and fish tank – photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

 

Fireplace Lounge - photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

Fireplace Lounge – photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

 

Fireplace Lounge bar - photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

Fireplace Lounge bar – photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

 

Fireplace Lounge - photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

Fireplace Lounge – photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

 

Fireplace Lounge bar - photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

Fireplace Lounge bar – photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

 

The Florentine Dining Room also has not changed much since 1953, with the exception of new carpet, chairs (which don’t look much different from the original ones), and chandeliers which look like they were added in the 1960s. The gorgeous open beamed ceiling and wavy wood treatments back-lit by recessed lighting are still there in all their glory, as well as picture windows galore, with views of boats in the harbor in the foreground and the city and the Golden Gate bridge in the background.

 

Florentine Dining Room - photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

Florentine Dining Room – photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

 

The dining room is huge, so it can accommodate the summertime tourist crowds (it seats 265 diners). As you make your way into the dining room there is another bar (three in one restaurant!) that is a real novelty in San Francisco. The back bar is sunken below floor level so the patrons can drink and dine while seated in lounge chairs instead of bar stools. A brilliant bar concept! The only other sunken bar I recall is the one that was in an old Italian restaurant in Hayward, CA, called Banchero’s, which closed in 2012. I really miss that place!

 

Florentine Dining Room

Florentine Dining Room looking towards the west – the sunken bar is just out of view to the right

 

powder room

 

Near the host stand and the ladies’ powder room (yes, it’s still called that in this time machine) there is a table with some souvenir pamphlets you can take home, and a display case of other souvenirs available in the gift shop downstairs (ask when it closes so you don’t miss the gift shop). And check out all the memorabilia on the walls downstairs, inside and outside).

 

memorabilia

 

The menu is seafood, of course. Their Boston clam chowder recently won a local award. I recommend any of the Dungeness crab dishes, such as the crabcake, crab Louie (my favorite), and the whole or half crab roasted in olive oil, garlic, and lemon. Local Dungeness crab season runs from November until the summertime, but the season normally continues in Oregon and Washington until mid October, so it’s fine to order it here year ’round. Dungeness crab is currently a sustainable seafood resource. There are also pasta and meat dishes on the menu. My friend recently tried the filet mignon and it was excellent. I would not recommended the dishes with bay shrimp, which are usually frozen in most restaurants, or the seafood dishes with heavy sauces that tend to overpower delicate fish. As in most seafood restaurants order with care so you get the freshest local seafood possible. It’s easy to ask the server “what was locally caught today?”

 

FG map

 

Fisherman’s Grotto is still owned by the Geraldi family, after 80 years! Take that, Bubba Gump! Forget the national chain restaurants in Fisherman’s Wharf. Instead take your business to a locally owned, family restaurant like Fishermen’s Grotto, Scoma’s, Alioto’s, or Pompeii’s Grotto. When I moved to the Bay Area in 1992 many locals told me to avoid Fishermans’ Wharf. It’s full of tourist traps, they said. I went anyway, and discovered Fishermen’s Grotto. So, sometimes it’s better to ignore locals’ advice and check it out for yourself!

 

FG fishermanI was surprised to see such low scores on Yelp for Fishermen’s Grotto. I always take Yelp with a pillar of salt, but it seems that people either ‘get’ classic restaurants or don’t. One of Le Continental’s rules on classic dining is to lower your expectations a little. Go to this incredible time machine with the goal of dining as they would have in the 1950s: have a martini at the Fireplace Lounge or sunken bar, dine on some crab and spaghetti, soak in the views listening to some Sinatra or Dino that plays softly in the background, and be thankful that you still can have such an experience. Then go have an Irish Coffee at the Buena Vista Cafe.

 

Fishermen’s Grotto
2847 Taylor St, San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 673-7025
Open Sun-Thu 11:00am – 10:00pm, Fri- Sat 11:00am – 11:00pm
They validate parking for up to two hours at the garage at the north end of Taylor St., just past the restaurant.

 

La Mariana Sailing Club, Honolulu, Hawaii

There used to be a lot of classic tiki bars and Polynesian Pop restaurants in Hawaii, but as tourists started to seek out a more ‘authentic’ Hawaiian experience in the 1980s and 90s they fell out of favor and most of them closed. In Waikiki during the mid-century tiki heyday there was a Don the Beachcomber, the Sheraton’s Kon Tiki, a Christian’s Hut, and a Trader Vic’s, as well as a Trader Vic’s in Honolulu. Nowadays the only originals left are the Tahiti Nui in Kauai and the La Mariana Sailing Club in Honolulu. However, tiki is big again and there are some new tiki bars, most notably a resurrected Don The Beachcomber in Kailua-Kona that opened in 2005 (no connection to the original Don the Beachcomber chain).

 

entrance to Kon Tiki Room – photo by Dean Curtis, 2001 (photo was damaged by being stored with some Polaroids)

 

Annette La Mariana (Italian for “little sea”) was born in Brooklyn in 1914 and married a silent film star when she was 18 years old. The marriage ended and she later married a New Zealander, Johnny Campbell, and sailed throughout the Pacific with him, ending up in Honolulu, where they decided to create an inexpensive sailing club and marina. They started work in 1955 and in 1957 the La Mariana Sailing Club opened. The membership fee was $2 and slips rented for 50 cents a month. After spending 20 years building a lush tropical oasis on the site, in 1975 she had to vacate so she moved the entire operation 50 feet up the shore of Keehi Lagoon into an old junkyard, including the docks, boats, the clubhouse, and many trees and plants. The marina is still working as a private sailing club, but the restaurant and bar are open to the public.

 

as you enter the bar is on the right – photo by Dean Curtis, 2001

 

Annette La Mariana Nahinu continued to improve the restaurant, adding decor from local tiki bars that closed in the 1980s and 1990s, including koa wood tables and rattan furniture from Don the Beachcomber, tikis from the Kon Tiki and Tahitian Lanai, and glass floats and puffer fish lamps from Trader Vic’s, making the La Mariana a delightful living museum of the long gone tiki establishments of old Waikiki. And there’s even a waterfall inside!

 

the dining room is on your left - photo by Dean Curtis, 2001

and the dining room is on the left – photo by Dean Curtis, 2001

 

When my girlfriend and I dined at La Mariana in 2001 we enjoyed meeting Annette, who was 87 years old and still visited all of her customers at their tables. She continued to run the restaurant until just before her death in 2008 at 93.

 

looking back towards the bar from inside the dining room – photo by Dean Curtis, 2001

 

The menu is traditional surf and turf with meany seafood entrees, a few steak and chicken dishes, and a large choice of pupus. Lunch and dinner are served daily with pupus also served between meals. The tropical drinks are sweet and strong. Not up to par with the cocktails at the Mai-Kai or Tiki Ti, but they are fairly inexpensive.

 

the lounge with gorgeous carved wood panels – photo by Dean Curtis, 2001

 

It is suggested that you try to visit the bar on a Thursday night, when blind piano player Ronnie Miyashiro is on the keys starting at 7:00pm. He is legendary, having once played at the Tahitian Lanai, so he attracts an older crowd of regulars who often sing along to the Hawaiian songs and pop standards. This is not karaoke; the folks who step up to sing can carry a tune and sometimes local musicians sit in as well. But show up early because this is not a late night bar.

 

waterfall in dining area - photo by Kelly S. Osato, 2012

waterfall in dining area – photo by Kelly S. Osato, 2012

 

The La Mariana is the best place in Oahu to still experience Hawaii as it was during the 1950s through the 1970s. ALOHA!

 

La Mariana Sailing Club
50 Sand Island Access Rd, Honolulu, HI 96819
(808) 848-2800
Open daily for lunch 11:00am-3:00pm, pupus and drinks 3:00pm-5:00pm, dinner 5:00pm-9:00pm
Closed on major holidays (call ahead)

The restaurant is a bit hard to find on route 64 toward Sand Island from Honolulu Airport (convenient for before a flight or on a layover). Somehow we managed to find it in 2001 without smart phones or GPS!

 

H.M.S. Bounty, Los Angeles, California

Le Continental is a big fan of nautical themed restaurants and bars. Not the contemporary type of brightly lit rooms with furnishings in light oak, blue, and white, but the rich, old nautical style of dark varnished woods, brass fixtures, and lots of flotsam. The HMS Bounty is fairly well known as a dive bar, but I think of it also as a restaurant. It has been one of my favorite places to dine at in Los Angeles for many years.

 

photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

 

The HMS Bounty was opened in 1962 by restauranteur Gordon Fields in the Gaylord Hotel, which opened in 1924 on rapidly growing Wilshire Boulevard. The hotel was named after land developer Henry Gaylord Wilshire, who everyone called ‘Gaylord’. The 1920s were certainly roaring along this stretch of Wilshire, with the opulent Ambassador Hotel and Coconut Grove nightclub opening in 1921 (across from where the Gaylord stands,  demolished in 2006), the first Brown Derby restaurant opening down the street in 1926 (demolished in 1980), and the spectacular art deco Bullocks Wilshire department store open for business a bit farther east in 1929 (still standing). The Gaylord was a luxury apartment building which was the first co-op (like condos, the tenant owned each apartment) apartment building in the west, however the co-op model was a failure in Los Angeles at the time so eventually most of the units were rented out.

 

image by Gaylord Apartments' facebook page

image by Gaylord Apartments’ facebook page

 

Before the space in the hotel became the HMS Bounty it was the Fountain Room, a lounge and ballroom (1924-1948), The Gay Room cocktail lounge (1948-1951), Dimsdale’s Secret Harbor (1951-?), and the Golden Anchor. When Gordon ‘Gordie’ Fields opened the HMS Bounty he already had success with his olde English Bull ‘n’ Bush steakhouse a block away on 6th and Kenmore streets, which he opened in 1956. He was a big sports fan, so he filled his first restaurant with sports memorabilia, which, along with the great steaks, attracted a clientele of sports personalities and celebrities (such as Jack Webb). The Bull ‘n’ Bush expanded down Kenmore Street and Fields (along with some partners) opened the HMS Bounty to accommodate even more diners.

 

photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

 

In a short time the Bounty became a power lunch spot and a popular cocktail lounge at night, where people had martinis before having dinner at the Brown Derby, the Windsor (now the Prince), or The Cove. The story goes that there was even a secret passage from the Coconut Grove across the street to the HMS Bounty. Some of the celebrities who frequented the HMS Bounty are Winston Churchill, William Randolph Hearst, Walter Winchell, Wilbur Clark, and Jack Webb (his booth was the last booth on the right after entering the bar, the one with the Bull ‘n’ Bush sign mounted above it). Gordon Fields passed away in 1998 and Ramon Castaneda, an employee at HMS Bounty since it opened, took over the restaurant.

 

photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

 

The bar at HMS Bounty is a great place to get a highball. It has the original red naugahyde booths and chairs, a model of the HMS Bounty behind the bar, and a jukebox stocked with 45s of pop standards and big band that only costs a quarter (they also have a CD jukebox on the wall). But I like to eat in the quiet dining room in back that has no TVs (it seems that every time I return to the bar there is another TV added, though at least they are small TVs). The same dark red vinyl booths, white linen tablecloths, simple nautical decor, and very dark (with no TVs).

 

photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

(guess what time of year I took that pic?)

 

The menu is very reasonably priced (all entrees under $20; sandwiches under $10) and includes steaks (8 types), chops, and seafood. The food is classic and good.

Make sure you use the bathroom during your visit, which is in the basement of the Gaylord Hotel, so you can see the 1920s opulence of the lobby and display case of hotel memorabilia.

 

H.M.S. Bounty
3357 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90010
(213) 385-7275
Open Mon-Thu 11:00am-1:00am, Fri-Sat 11:00am-2:00am, Sun 12:00pm-1:00am

 

Cafe La Maze, National City, California

Marcel Lamaze was a famous chef and maître d’hôtel in Hollywood during the heyday of the 1930s through the 1950s. He opened his Cafe La Maze on the Sunset Strip in 1938. It was a popular celebrity hangout, with regulars including James Cagney, Spencer Tracy, and Pat O’Brien.

 

Cafe Lamaze, Hollywood

Cafe La Maze, Hollywood

 

Marcel Lamaze was also maître d’hôtel at the Earl Carroll Theater and at Ciro’s (formerly Lamaze’s Club Seville). He was chef at The Kings restaurant from 1951 to 1954, then maître d’hôtel at the Moulin Rouge, which replaced the Earl Carroll Theater, until his death in 1960. In the 1940s his Cafe La Maze in Hollywood became Sherry’s, later the Plymouth House, Gazarri’s, Billboard Live, and finally the Key Club, which closed recently (no relation to the Key Club bar at Cafe La Maze in National City – see photo below).

 

Cafe La Maze, National City, 1949 - photo by Cafe La Maze

Cafe La Maze, National City, 1949 – photo by Cafe La Maze

 

According to the web site for Cafe La Maze in National City, Marcel Lamaze opened the restaurant in 1940 to serve Hollywood celebrities who traveled across the border to gamble in Tijuana. However, there is no evidence of Marcel Lamaze’s connection to the restaurant in National City and city newspapers show that the restaurant was opened in 1940 by Jimmy Thompson. Nevertheless, reportedly it was a popular gambling stop with a secret gambling den on the second floor (in 1947, Thompson was arrested in a midnight raid on the establishment to enforce ant-gambling laws) and had a reputation for excellent food so it became a special destination for a fancy night out.

 

front

Cafe La Maze, National City, today

 

In the 1960s it was briefly renamed Plantation Restaurant and remodeled, probably close to its present look, but in 1967 it was named Cafe La Maze again. In 1969, Freddie Evarkiou bought the restaurant and owned it until 2004. In 2008, Evarkiou stated that Marcel Lamaze had no direct connection to the National City location, though he admitted  the restaurant obtained recipes from Marcel Lamaze, who was a well-know chef (and maître d’hôtel). So, Le Continental believes the restaurant was named Cafe La Maze as a tribute to the Hollywood location, with possible involvement by Marcel Lamaze.

 

interior - photo by Cafe La Maze

interior – photo by Cafe La Maze

 

In 2008 Adam Cook and Cuong Nguyen bought the restaurant. Their designer Michele Gonzalez has done a wonderful job redecorating the restaurant into a classic steakhouse with acknowledgements to the history of Marcel Lamaze as a Hollywood host. There are tufted red booths, red and gold flocked wallpaper, mid-century chandeliers, and photos of Hollywood celebrities from Marcel Lamaze’s era. The menu specializes in Prime Rib and steaks, which are hand cut, as well as seafood. The restaurant makes its own blue cheese dressing and soups from scratch. Despite the foggy history of the place, it is a fact that it is a historic restaurant in San Diego and we are grateful that it has survived for 75 years, and we hope it keeps going for a long, long time (maybe to 100 years old!).

 

Cafe La Maze
1441 Highland Ave, National City, CA 91950
(619) 474-3222
Open Sun-Thu 11:00am – 9:00pm (bar at 11:30pm), Fri-Sat 11:00am – 10:00pm (bar at 12:30pm)